21 provinces feel flushed with success in improving locals' health hinh anh 1A boy washes his hands with tap water in Ninh Thuan province (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - In an attempt to improve health for local residents, more than 400,000 household toilets and more than 235,000 water supply works have been set up in a total of 21 mountainous provinces of northern, Central Highlands and south-central regions in the past two years.

Additionally, some 2,650 public toilets were also constructed in these provinces.

The provinces consist of Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Yên Bai, Phu Tho, Hoa Binh, Bac Giang, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Lam Dong, Ninh Thuan, and Binh Thuan.

It was initial results of a five-year programme, implemented by the Ministry of Health under financial supports of the World Bank, the online newspaper VietnamPlus reported.

The programme is expected to contribute to the reduction of diseases in residential areas, especially those related to water and sanitation, thereby increasing the productivity, and improving the quality of life for thousands of local people.

It is also designed to improve personal hygiene, environmental sanitation as well as strengthen access to clean water in rural areas.

The programme, worth 225.5 million USD, was approved under the Government decision No 1415/QD-Ttg, issued in August 2015.

It has three components. The first is rural water supply; the second is rural sanitation; and the third is improving capability of communication, monitoring and evaluation for relevant agencies.
Lo Van Tien, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dien Bien province and head of the provincial steering committee to implement the programme, said it had begun to change the behaviour of locals.

Local people were step by step familiar with standard toilets, tap water and setting up a habit of washing their hands after using toilets, Tien said.

When the behaviour of local residents was changed, it meant that the environmental sanitation was also improved, he added.

Statistics from the local administration show the province has set up 45 public water supply works between 2016 and June 2018.

The province plans to provide tap water for a total of nearly 402,000 local residents by 2020.

In the meantime, Ha Giang province has built 38 water supply works for nearly 9,600 households and constructed more than 3,400 household toilets since 2016.

The province also organised training courses for local staff, who participated in implementing the programme, and strengthened dissemination to raise public awareness of clean water and environmental sanitation.

Nguyen Minh Tien, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, said the committee had ordered relevant agencies to finish the programme’s targets as soon as possible.

Pham Thi May, a local resident in Yen Bai province’s Dai Phac commune, got a new toilet thanks to financial support from the programme.

“The new toilet is hygienic and convenient,” she added.

May said her family used an old-style toilet before. It was not only unhygienic and inconvenient but also posing negative impacts on the environment.

She felt thankful because of the programme, she said.

Hoang Kim Chung, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of the commune said the programme was believed to improve the health for local residents and protect the environment.

The committee planned to boost dissemination to local residents so that it could more effectively implement the programme in the future, he said.

According to associate professor Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, director of the Health Environment Management Agency under the health ministry, infectious diseases with the highest number of patients were those related to clean water and environmental hygiene.

In Vietnam, infectious diseases with more than 100,000 patients are flu, diarrhea, dengue fever, foot-hand-mouth disease, mumps and chicken pox.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said 88 percent of childhood fatalities are related to weak sanitation and clean water shortages.-VNS/VNA